Saturday, October 6, 2012

Book #280: Pssst! by Adam Rex

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One day a young girl goes to the zoo and has a series of strange conversations with the animals. Each of them asks the girl to bring them something, some tires, paint, trash cans, flashlights, bicycle helmets, corn. It’s an odd list of items, but they give the girl money (coins picked from the fountains) so she dutifully buys everything at the superstore across the street. You’ll have to read the book to find out what the animals do with their treasures. Let’s just say it’s probably not your first guess!

Rex’s oil and acrylic illustrations on watercolor paper combine loosely depicted backgrounds with highly detailed characters to create a slightly surreal and hilarious environment. The backgrounds are filled with visual and textual jokes, some for kids (“sidewalk sale 50% off all items starting with T”) and some for adults, like the sign in front of the walrus, which reads, “I am the Walrus (koo-koo-kachoo).” The girl’s narration, of which there is very little, is printed across the page, but her unusual conversations with the animals happen in panels, much like a graphic novel. Dialogue is always shown in speech bubbles and much can be learned from the girl’s facial expressions. Check out the endpapers, which feature a humorous map of the zoo.

Use this as a funny introduction or snappy wrap up to a zoo themed storytime. Try pairing it with ZooZical, Hippo! No, Rhino!, What Animals Really Like, A Sick Day for Amos McGee or Where’s Walrus?

Pair this with your favorite zoo animal craft or bring in recycled plastic bottles, tin cans, and other bits and pieces and have the kids make their own Zoomobile (sorry, that was a spoiler). The smaller the car, the faster the project. If you want to make the project last for an entire rainy day, give the kids cardboard boxes and have them make Zoomobiles they can sit in.

I just have to say, I’m a huge fan of Adam Rex. His work tickles my funny bone in a witty, clever way. Check out Rex's website for more of his work and if you’re looking for a middle grade book to read look no further than The True Meaning of Smekday, one of my all time favorite books. 


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